Focusing on the present moment is the secret for letting go. Instead of worrying about everything in your life, you can zero in on the task at hand. Instead of obsessing on an anger or stress situation, you zone in on a project that will actually help you get what you really need to be okay. Once you get absorbed and what you’re doing, it can feel so much more satisfying. Instead of resisting and struggling, you become engaged, alert and involved.
Here are a few simple tips to help you find a focus and increase your present moment awareness.
Taking one day at a time
Years ago Dale Carnegie used to encourage people to live in “day tight compartments”. He would use the analogy of a ship to demonstrate his suggestion. Ships are built with separate compartments that can be closed off in case of emergency, making the risk of sinking much less likely. If one part of the ship fills with water, you can just close off that compartment and continue on your destination. We sometimes function like poorly designed ships. We allow a problem to fill up our whole minds and take us over. We can become emotionally paralyzed. Dale Carnegie’s solution is to take life one day at a time. Everyone can get through just one day. If we take on more than that, more than the present, our Stress and Anxiety levels begin to rise and we can tend to function out of the Primitive brain. You may want to plan a bit for tomorrow but to obsess about it is counterproductive. Just be in the Now by letting go of the need to control your whole future. Being present in this very moment is both liberating and enlivening.
Your thoughts are very powerful. Whatever you focus on tends to amplify. If you place your attention on what you do not have or what is not working in your life, that’s what will become bigger in your mind. If you focus on what you do have, and what is working in your life, a radically amazing thing happens. Your life may not be any different, but the way you look at your life changes the way you experience it. The self-fulfilling prophecy effect begins to play a role as well. Helen Keller had a great way to put it, “keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” Face the sunshine and start paying attention to what you have and what’s working. Your Stress and Anxiety will fade into the background.
Forgetting the grass is greener illusion
You know the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side”. You think that once you get over there (to some other place), life will really be ‘greener’. It certainly looks that way from a distance. The grass is greener myth is a fantasy and prevents us from recognizing how good we’ve got it. Instead, we spend our time focusing on the future and wishing for something better. When you were in high school, you might have fantasized about how great it would be to be living on your own. You longed to experience more freedom and Independence. But once you were on your own, you couldn’t help but think about how amazing high school was. No worries. No responsibility. No bills. The idea that it was going to be greener in the future was keeping you from appreciating what you had in the present. That might not be your personal experience, but there may be other times in your life when you tended to idealize. Maybe you think your life will really take off when you get a big house or retire. Well those goals are certainly worthwhile, don’t let them prevent you from appreciating the Here and Now. Focus on this day, this moment, this place. Get involved. Find what works. Be present to your life.